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Things We Didn't Say: A Novel

Things We Didn't Say: A Novel

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Things We Didn't Say: A Novel

valutazioni:
4/5 (19 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
350 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Jun 28, 2011
ISBN:
9780062092373
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Things We Didn’t Say is impossible to put down, and even harder to let go of.”
—Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love

Kristina Riggle’s star continues to rise. Tiffany Baker, the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, says that Riggle, “writes women’s fiction with soul.” In her novel Things We Didn’t Say, the acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined (an Indie Next Notable Book) explores the messiness of life’s love stories, especially those involving teenage almost-stepchildren, a unreliable ex-wife, and the words no parent ever wants to hear: “Your child is missing.” A poignant, honest, and unforgettable novel that fans of Katrina Kittle and Elin Hildenbrand will take into their hearts, Things We Didn’t Say is exactly the sort of well-written, complex relationships story that women love to read, discuss, and share with their friends.

Pubblicato:
Jun 28, 2011
ISBN:
9780062092373
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Kristina Riggle is a published short story writer and coeditor for fiction at the e-zine Literary Mama. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, two kids, and dog.

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Things We Didn't Say - Kristina Riggle

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Chapter 1

Casey

My cigarette smoke twists through the predawn November air, until a gust breaks it apart. My hair whips across my face, so I turn into the wind, putting my cigarette behind my back to shelter it. The effect is like leaning off the prow of a ship.

The air is heavy with looming winter. Mornings like this, as a kid, I’d curse and groan, shivering at the bus stop in the cracking cold before the sun even came up. Now? I’d take this cold every day of the year if it always came with such exquisite quiet.

My boots crunch along the sidewalk in the gray stillness as I cast a glance back toward the drafty, narrow house where the children still sleep.

I thought one day they might be my children, or something like that. The day I first met them, Angel was doing up little Jewel’s hair in crazy ponytails with pink glitter hair spray, then they moved on to me and wound ribbons into braids all over my head. I looked like a maypole. Dylan, though, reminded me of my family’s half-wild outdoor cat, Patch. You had to earn his attention, and trying too hard was the worst thing to do. Dylan didn’t say much that first day. He started peeking at me from under his dark, floppy bangs. By the time I left, I had earned a quick half-smile granted when no one else was looking.

A square of weak yellow light flicks to life from the second story. Even from a block away I can tell it’s from Angel’s room. I’ve got time; she’ll be in the bathroom for an age, emerging in a puff of sweet-smelling bathroom steam when she imagines herself perfect.

My phone buzzes in the pocket of my parka, and I resume my daily trudge around the block, feeling my last free moments of the day burning down like my cigarette.

Hi, Tony.

Hey, Edna Leigh.

I wish you wouldn’t call me that.

I’m just joshing with you.

I’m not in the mood.

"Fine, Casey. Though I’ve been short with him, his voice has a smile in it. I can always count on this, whatever else happens. Does your husband get to say your real name, or do you make him use your last name, too? Shit, linebackers go by their last names."

If your mother had named you after a great-grandparent, you wouldn’t like it, either. How’d you like to be an Otis? Anyway, he calls me Casey, and he’s not my husband.

Yet? he prompts.

Right. Yet.

Michael must have already left for the gym to work off his worry about his job. Every day he comes home with more news of cutbacks and layoffs and buyouts.

When do I get to meet him?

Not now.

I’m beginning to think you’re embarrassed about me. Least if we’re going to sneak around we should screw around, too, make it fun.

I laugh, because Tony is twice my age and then some. He’s a former neighbor but feels like my uncle, and these days is my only genuine friend. It’s not you I’m embarrassed about.

I step over a cracked piece of sidewalk without having to look. If they ever fix it, I’ll probably fall and break my neck.

How great can this guy be if he expects you never to have made a mistake in your life?

It’s complicated.

Ain’t it always.

Whatever. What’s up with you, Tony?

Five hundred days sober today.

You get a cake for that?

Come to AA with me, and I’ll make you a double chocolate layer cake.

Congratulations, anyway.

C’mon, come with me. I promise to bake you a cake, or whatever you want. Name your price.

I can’t be bought with dessert.

How very high-minded.

I’m not going to stand there in some dreary church basement confessing to my past drunken sins, which, by the way, are two years old now. I’m doing just fine.

My voice startles me with its volume. An early-morning dog walker passing on the other side of the street jerks his head in my direction. It’s Tom with his floppy-haired dog, Ted—named for the late senator Kennedy—and he gives me an uncertain wave.

You sure sound fine.

I toss my cigarette down and stamp it with my boot heel. Did you call just to hassle me?

"Well, not just. Tony rattles off a cough and spits. Talking to you is the highlight of my day. I wouldn’t get up this early for anyone else."

Then you have some sad days, my friend.

I’m already rounding the corner back to the house. Claustrophobic city blocks are like that, and I’ve unwittingly sped up my walk. My ego wants more time alone, my id wants out of the cold. The bare November trees lean over me, and I wish I could climb one and hide in its old branches.

The house’s pitched roof and twin top-story windows create an air of surprise that I’ve returned.

You there? Tony asks.

Yeah.

You going to make it today, kid?

I exhale a plume of white winter breath, considering. I think so.

Think? His voice bears the strain of concern. He knows what stupidity I’ve survived. He knows about my old job, which I used to love—the only place I’ve ever excelled in spite of myself—the people I once considered friends, how I never see my family anymore because all of it comes braided together with booze.

Okay. I will.

That’s my girl. Stay strong.

It’s too corny for me, but I’m glad he says it all the same.

Some days, I just—

I have my hand on the rear storm door when the inside door jerks open. I yank the phone away from my head and hang up.

Who was that? asks Michael, rubbing his eyes, then his bare arms. He’s still wearing what he wore to bed.

My mother. I step into the kitchen’s harsh yellow light and shrug out of my parka.

She called early. And you hung up on her?

The phone is buzzing in my hand with Tony’s number showing on the display. I turn my phone over, his number toward my palm. I nod.

You’ll hear about that later.

I expect I will. I thought you were at the gym.

Headache.

I’m sorry.

My phone chimes again, one brief tone, and I stuff it in my pocket. Angel is up, I noticed. You talk to her yet?

Before her ladyship has come down the stairs? Heaven forbid.

I don’t rise to this. I once joined in with his half-larky, half-serious use of this title for Angel, and the conversation fell to silence like a rock off a cliff.

Going up to shave, he says, leaning in to plant a quick kiss on my forehead. I would usually seize up and treasure this small affection. Today, it stings.

When I’ve heard his steps go all the way up the stairs, I check my phone.

Tony didn’t leave a voice mail. His text reads: Caught by surprise?

I send back one word—sorry—and delete both messages.

So Michael hasn’t seen Angel. He doesn’t know yet. Maybe she won’t tell him at all, or maybe she’s waiting. She’s smart like that, knowing how to hold her cards until just the right moment.

Like mother, like daughter.

That’s another thing I’m not allowed to say.

In the kitchen, pouring Jewel a bowl of Honeycombs as the older kids loll at the table, I offer Angel some breakfast, as casually as I can. Want something to eat? I fight to keep my voice level and mild, like I’m only the recorded voice on the phone, giving out the time.

Do I ever? she spits.

I laugh, as if this is an amusing joke. I do this partly to deflect her, partly for Jewel’s benefit, since conflict gives her a tummyache.

I rinse my cereal bowl in the sink. Michael is to my left, pouring coffee. I don’t know why I bother, but I cut my eyes over to him, searching for him to meet my gaze. He glances up at me, and I tip my head toward his daughter.

He sighs and turns around, flashing me a quick, shamefaced look as he does, knowing his admonition will be too mild, too late.

Angel, you really should eat. And watch your tone.

Angel barely hears him and grunts at her phone, where she’s texting. She pauses to push her white-blond hair behind one ear. There are candy-pink streaks in it at the moment, though she’s promised the director of the school play she will bleach them out by dress rehearsal. She stretches out long in her chair, her body a graceful arcing swoop. She’s gotten taller in the short time I’ve known her, more graceful, too. Truth be told, she’s a stunner of a girl. Yet I’ve seen her scowl at herself in the mirror, caught her patting her stomach and fiddling with her waistband as if trying to check if she’s thin enough yet, beautiful enough yet.

I try to ruffle Dylan’s hair as I come back to the table, only he ducks my hand so I just swipe through the air above his head. I stuff that hand in my pocket.

You’ve got music class today? I ask Dylan.

Yeah.

I should know better than to ask yes-or-no questions. What songs are you working on?

Dylan shifts in his chair, shrugging like his clothes are making him itch. His hair, dark like his dad’s, flops over his light blue eyes, a combination that really should send the girls swooning. Maybe in a couple of years when his skin evens out and his voice smooths over again. I don’t . . . know. I note the pause. When he feels the stammer coming, he takes extra time to pronounce the word.

"You don’t know?" Michael interjects.

I haven’t heard you practice in a long time, I say quickly, interrupting his dad. Dylan used to enjoy the company when he played his sax. We didn’t talk, in fact most of the time I’d just work on my laptop, on the floor, propped up against his bedroom wall. He said it made him play better knowing there were other ears in the room.

It’s okay, he says. You don’t have to.

The teen kiss-off. You don’t have to equals "Please don’t."

Jewel pushes her pink glasses up the bridge of her nose and announces to the table in general: Did you know that humans have 206 bones in the body? And we’re born with more. Some of them fuse together, though.

I’m so grateful to her for cutting the tension with her factoid, I want to sweep her up in a hug. I cross my arms instead and smile. Yeah?

She’s wearing a French braid today, which she must have conned Angel into doing. Apparently their mother was a whiz at complicated hairdos. I’ve never been good at that, and the first time Jewel asked me to fix her hair it took twenty minutes, and she cried all the way out the door with uneven pigtails.

Yeah, she replies, and I’m hoping she’ll continue her lecture but she refocuses on her cereal. She doesn’t have to be up as early as her big siblings, but she likes to be, she says. She likes to watch everybody head off for the day. Plus, she gets the television to herself after they leave until it’s her turn for the bus at eight thirty.

Dylan picks up his phone and reads a message, seeming to flinch. But then says casually, Hey, Dad, Robert is sick today. Can you drive me?

Robert is Dylan’s ride to Excalibur Charter Academy. EXA, the kids call it, like ecks-uh. Angel takes the bus to the magnet school in town, having won entrance with good grades. Dylan’s grades aren’t bad, nor are they exceptional. He went to the regular public high school until that gun incident in the courtyard there, and then Michael’s father arranged for him to attend his friend’s charter school. In the tradition of communicative teenage boys everywhere, Dylan says EXA is fine.

Yeah, sure, Michael says, roused from his work trance where he was mentally rehearsing his day. Angel, I’ll take you, too, as long as I’m driving. With a nod but no words, Dylan trots up the stairs, probably to fetch his saxophone.

Angel hops up from her chair. Thanks, Daddy.

In the bustle of bags and coats, I retreat to the corner of the kitchen. It’s too small for all of us in here.

Michael sweeps by me and tries to land a kiss on my cheek. He misses, and is propelled out the door by the momentum of his kids coming up behind him. Dylan says nothing on his way by.

Angel says, Bye, Casey. I hope you enjoy this nice quiet house today, all by yourself.

She’s turned away from me as she says that, so I can’t see her face.

How much did she read?

Casey? Can I go watch cartoons now?

Sure, J. Go ahead.

I pick up her bowl and Dylan’s Pop-Tart plate. Jewel wraps her arms around my waist, her nose buried in my belly. By the time I put the dishes back down to return the hug, she has fled to the living room to turn on SpongeBob SquarePants.

In the emptiness of the kitchen throbs the jagged emptiness in my chest, steadily growing in recent months, which I’ve tried to ignore but no longer can. It’s where hope briefly flickered, in the days when Michael still kissed me before he left, without fail, busy morning be damned.

I take a two-minute shower because all the hot water is gone, and when I go back downstairs, Jewel’s face is in a book called A Kid’s Guide to Positive Thinking. She has pulled her glasses down to the tip of her nose to read, stretched out flat on the couch, the book propped on her chest. The TV still blares, but she won’t turn it off, even while reading. Being the youngest in a house this full, she’s been steeped in noise since the womb.

Hey, Jewel?

No response.

Jewel!

Yeah? she says into the pages of her book.

Ally’s mom is going to pick you up from Girl Scouts today.

Why?

Something came up I have to do, I tell her, my voice catching a little, so I cough.

With no second car, I usually walk up to meet Jewel at the school cafeteria, where Girl Scouts meets. But if the weather’s bad, or I’m sick, I impose on one of the other parents. And they do let me know that I impose.

I top off my coffee, and at the kitchen phone, I dial up Ally’s mom, who agrees to bring Jewel home but advertises her annoyance with heavy sighs and a long pause to check her daily planner. Once while waiting to pick up Jewel I overhard her explaining to another mom: "She’s not the stepmother. The father’s girlfriend," with so much stress on girl you’d think I was fourteen years old instead of twenty-six. That’s not so much younger than Michael, really. If we were forty and fifty, no one would even blink.

I could look older if I dressed more like the other mothers, but I’m comfortable in my baggy thrift-store Levi’s with my hair in a ponytail.

Not that it will much matter after today.

I check the schedule, and Dylan and Angel both have practices today: sax for him, school play for her, and they both have rides. Michael should be home on time, unless there’s breaking news, but in any case, Angel and Dylan will be home when Jewel gets dropped off from Girl Scouts.

So. They’re all taken care of.

I put Jewel on the bus with a wave. She doesn’t go for a hug this time, and I turn away quickly so she can’t see the wetness in my lashes. I wait until I’m back inside the house to wipe it away.

I sit down at my desk and hesitate in front of the blank paper. From here, I can see the houses across the street: tall and narrow turn-of-the-century homes nestled together like children sharing a bed. Most are in muted colors, the occasional fanciful pastel. One, across and to my left, is electric green.

I used to so much admire these houses that I imagined their interiors filled with happy, harmonious families. It’s not until these last few months I’ve become conscious of the assumption, and how ridiculous it was. We were all taught as children not to judge books by their covers, after all.

I recall Jewel’s jaunty wave as she got on the bus. I can’t imagine what she’ll think. But then I remember also the vision board she’s making in her room, the collage of pictures representing the things she wants to happen in her life. In the center of the board is a family picture. I’m not in it. It’s a Christmas card portrait; the last holiday when Mallory and Michael were still married.

She likes me, Jewel does, but when she’s really falling apart over something, she cries for her mother, as all children do, even the children of volatile Mallory.

Next to me is my journal. I haven’t opened it again since before dawn this morning, when I saw scribbled in red ink on the first blank page: You sure have a lot of secrets, CASEY!!!!!!

For months I’ve been reminding myself how hard it is to be sixteen, and that for me to move in was a drastic change; maybe she feels supplanted as the reigning queen bee now that her mom lives somewhere else. That’s the story I tell myself, anyway, to explain the hostility spreading like mold over our relationship. When I was just someone her father was seeing, we had fun shopping and drinking lattes together. But the weekend I moved in, she picked a dramatic fight over my inadequate laundry skills.

Each day since then has been more of a struggle not to see her mother in that haughty raised eyebrow and upturned lip.

I shake my hands out before I begin.

Dear Michael,

I know I’m a coward for doing this in writing . . .

I seal the letter in an envelope and put it on top of his dresser, where he empties his pocket change every day, changing from khaki pants into sweats or jeans. He’ll see it as soon as he’s home from work.

There’s a picture on top of this dresser. It’s of me. I’m wearing a baseball cap and my dark blond hair is hanging in a ponytail. I’m holding a baseball bat, glaring with mock concentration at the invisible pitcher, but my eyes are smiling and I know that the minute the shutter clicked I snorted with laughter. I don’t remember the exact joke, but it didn’t take much to get me started back then. I know I kissed him as soon as I put the bat down. Michael had added text to the picture before printing it out. It says, Casey at the bat, in the blue sky behind me.

The ring snags on my knuckle, biting into the skin as I try to pull it off. My hands are puffy. I yank again, letting it bang again into the existing scrape, which is now blooming with a line of red.

Against my will, my mind flashes to the moment Michael slid this ring on my finger, almost a year ago, on New Year’s Eve. Mallory had the kids that night, and we sat on a rug in front of the living room fireplace. The house was then a place I only visited, a place we had to ourselves when Mallory managed to keep to her visitation days. I’d never seen its dustiest corners, never hauled the smelly trash to the curb. I knew but did not yet grasp this bit of history: it was not just a pretty house, but had been the Turner family home since Michael was a kid, and then the very home where Michael and Mallory had settled in as newlyweds. I still use the mixing bowls they got as a wedding gift to stir the pancake batter every Sunday.

That New Year’s Eve, amber firelight wavering across his face, he whispered, I never thought I’d do this again.

I gasped. He must have thought it was delight and surprise. It was more like a falling dream; a sickening plunge. A stepmother? Me? I thought of myself drunk at the bottom of a stairwell or puking my guts out in a smelly bar bathroom.

That wasn’t the girl he wanted to marry. He never met that girl at all, never knew she existed.

It was me he wanted, the new me, the one who played board games with his kids and didn’t even like the taste of alcohol. He made me chicken soup when I was sick and taught me to play euchre and told me dumb jokes until I laughed when I was having a bad day. He loves me, I thought. And that will be enough. So I said yes.

The ring still won’t come off. I clench my bloody knuckle and resign myself to leaving it on, for now. An unwelcome loose end. I walk out of the room, no longer my room, and it wasn’t ever, really.

I pause at the front door with my hand on the knob, holding my breath, allowing myself to feel this tearing away, doubting myself. If it hurts this much to walk out this door, does that mean I should stay?

But vaccinations hurt, too. Surgery hurts. Exercise hurts. Sometimes pain is necessary.

I yank on the knob. It comes open hard, as if resisting me, but that’s just fancy. It’s a sticky old wooden door, is all.

I almost sprint down the porch stairs, my bag slapping against my hip.

I’m halfway down the block when I realize I don’t have my phone. Also, I should probably leave the key. I’ll have to get my books and things later, but I’ll do that at some appointed time, and Michael will open the door to let me in. Or maybe we can meet at a neutral location.

And I’ll have to return the ring, once I get it off.

The house grows larger in my view, again with its surprised-looking front windows. It’s disorienting to have turned around. Just minutes before when I crossed the threshold it had felt so final and momentous. For a moment I stand on the sidewalk in front of the house and consider leaving my phone there, too, maybe leaving it all there, forever.

The house already seems to me like it belongs to a stranger. A pretty wood house among other pretty wood houses, painted a soft gray-blue like a dawn sky before the sun has gathered full strength, a rounded, half-moon window and a wraparound porch morphing into mere details, as if I hadn’t seen Dr. Turner and Michael carefully painting every spindle of that porch just last spring.

I can always get new books. I could turn around again.

But no. My mother will call, and then she’ll worry, and that wouldn’t be fair, considering what she’s been through already.

I rush back up the porch, and suck in a sharp breath as I turn the key in the lock and shove the heavy wood door open with my shoulder.

My phone is in the kitchen, and I’m just picking it up when the house phone rings. I look at caller ID: the high school. I let it ring three times before I resign myself to picking up. After all, there could be something wrong.

Chapter 2

Michael

Iyank open the heavy metal employee entrance door at the Grand Rapids Herald newsroom, my head already full of yesterday’s story and this morning’s last-minute edits.

The scent of fresh ink clings to the building, though the presses moved to a facility miles away more than two years ago.

Every morning as I walk this hall, I recall a full, bustling office, the police scanner fizzing with static, the television on to the morning news, reporters already working the phones, editors squinting at their screens.

Reality hits me when I round the corner: half the seats are now empty, the computer terminals removed and redistributed to other papers in the company. Here and there a coffee mug sits, ringed with the brown remnants of mugs swilled on deadline. There still should be a buzz of activity. But a malaise has settled on the survivors. The loudest noise is the muted clacking of keys.

I sit down and punch the button to fire up my terminal, glancing about for Aaron. I see he’s already busy with Tina, so I pull out my notes.

Gerald used to sit next to me. His computer is gone, as is his stuff. But there’s still a photo print on his low workspace wall, snapped by one of our photogs during a candid moment. Gerald is scowling at his screen, his glasses on the end of his nose like something out of Dickens. The caption reads: "I am smiling, dammit," which became a famous Gerald-ism, uttered in response to an unbearable intern who exhorted him to smile. On deadline.

The terminal across from me, where Amanda works, has a note taped to

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  • (5/5)
    Great quick read
  • (3/5)
    This is a story about blende families and their stuggles. It is also a lesson on keeping secrets from the ones we love. Michael and Casey his fiance are trying to build a life with michaels 3 children.
  • (5/5)
    This is the story of a contemporary family in all of its pain and insecurities.It is the father who tries to be the responsible, stable parent. He is there for his children, no matter the chaos that surrounds them. And there is plenty of chaos: divorce, alcoholism, mental illness to name only a few.The ex-wife and mother of the children, two teens and an adolescent, is a selfish, self-absorbed woman. She is unwilling to accept responsibility or blame of any sort.Casey, the girlfriend, is insecure which makes her irresponsible in her own right. Though she has love to offer and good intentions, she is weak.The children are struggling with the issues that come with youth: school, friends, family, but also they are forced to deal with the issues of the adults in their lives.As the title alludes, sometimes it is the things we don’t say that affect us the most. Communication is everything. The things that people say often stay with us, but so do the things that never get said
  • (4/5)
    Things We Didn't Say reads like a Jodi Picoult book. Each chapter is narrated by a different character as they tell the story of the Turner family. Michael is a newspaper reporter who lives with his three children Angel, Dylan and Jewel. His ex-wife, Mallory is an alcoholic and his fiancee, Casey is a recovered alcoholic (although no one is aware of that fact...) Instead of going to school one day, Dylan runs away from home. This forces Mallory and Casey to be under the same roof for a few days while the search for Dylan goes on. I found this book to be interesting, and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Picoult's writing.
  • (3/5)
    The story of a family: a divorced father, his three children, his live-in girlfriend, his mentally ill ex-wife. The dialogue seemed a bit over-the-top dramatic at times but I stuck with the book to the end and was satisfied with where Ms. Riggle left her characters.
  • (2/5)
    The book, although a quick and easy read, is similar to so many other books I've read. It's the common theme of new wife/girlfriend meets crazy ex-wife and/or rude step-kid. In this particular case, the ex-wife was just a little too far-fetched to be taken seriously and the step kid was just too quick witted and mouthy. I had fun reading the book but was turned off at how ridiculous the ex-wife and step child were portrayed in the story.
  • (4/5)
    The main character of this book is a young woman that goes by the name of "Casey", which is actually her last name. Her first name is Edna, which she hates, so everyone calls her Casey. She is engaged to Michael, a young father of two girls and a boy, and a volatile ex-wife named Mallory. Michael has a high pressure job as a journalist, and it stresses him out on a regular basis.Michael's father is a very successful doctor, and never lets an opportunity go by to make Michael feel as though his job is not a very good choice for making a living to support his children. Michael always feels as though his father is looking down his nose and flaunting his perceived superiority. Michael's stormy relationship with his father causes alot of irritation.Early on in the story, Michael's son Dylan, disappears. At first no one knows if he has been abducted by a stranger or if he has run away. Since Casey works with computers for her job, so she is recruited to get into Dylan's computer and see if she can find any clues as to where he might be. She discovers that he has been conversing with a girl, and they determine that Dylan has run off to meet up with her and run away together.When Dylan's mother, Michael's ex-wife Mallory hears of the disappearance, she becomes hysterical and blames everything on Casey, who has been living with Michael and the kids. Casey feels terrible, and begins to question herself and wonders if it might be possible that she did not pick up on Dylan's intentions, and that perhaps she might be to blame. Michael seems to coddle Mallory, which in turn frustrates and hurts Casey....but Mallory is a very volatile, high-strung, alcoholic who although she lost custody of the kids, still has very strong feelings about having Casey playing the role of "mother" and resents young Casey and feels threatened by her presence in her children's lives.Casey has issues with alcohol herself, but Michael does not realize to what extent alcohol plays in her life. Although she does not make a habit of drinking....in fact, she tries to avoid it due to the problems Mallory has had and the way Michael feels about it.....she begins to feel like she needs a drink to cope with all that is going on in the household with Dylan's disappearance.The story proceeds on, with lots of drama between Michael, Casey and Mallory. Michael's daughter Angel discovers some very personal things in Casey's journal and Angel lets Casey know that she knows about these things, which causes alot of turmoil in their relationship.Dylan is finally located and brought back home by Michael and his father. Mallory deceives Casey one night while the guys are gone and under the guise of friendship, gets Casey drunk on whisky and when Michael brings Dylan home, he sees Casey intoxicated and blames her for falling apart just when he needs her to be a stable force for the other children during the crisis with Dylan. Michael does not realize that Mallory has set out to cause problems between Casey and himself. Casey begins to feel as though she is not valued in Michael's eyes the way she needs to feel.....and begins to emotionally withdraw. Michael's continued reluctance to be firm with Mallory is taking it's toll on his relationship with Casey.Then, a near tragedy with Michael's youngest daughter choking on a piece of candy, sets a whole new thrust in the story in motion.....as Dylan stands up for Casey, who actually saves the young girl by doing the Heimlich maneuver. Dylan tells his dad that Casey saved her and Mallory was irresponsible in ignoring the risk to the young girl of jumping with candy in her mouth.Eventually, Michael begins to see things as they really are, the daughter Angel begins to soften towards Casey, and Mallory's crazy behavior is getting to be more than Michael wants to endure, and the ending brings Michael and Casey together once more, closer than ever.The book was extremely well written, it was hard to put down. I would highly recommend this book to all.
  • (3/5)
    Some people lead lives full of problems. In Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle, 26-year-old Casey has a mess of them. She’s engaged to Michael, a man 10-years her senior, who has three children with an ex-wife who is a non-recovering alcoholic with multiple mental disorders. Casey’s secrets come back to haunt her when Michael’s middle child, Dylan, disappears after being dropped off at school one day and his oldest child, Angel, finds Casey’s journal and reads it.It’s infrequent that there are no sympathetic characters in a novel, but I feel like Ms. Riggle may have wanted it this way. The novel is often gritty and you can truly relate to Casey’s need to get away from the overbearing Michael who has not an ounce of empathy in his self-absorbed body. While Casey is the youngest adult in the novel, she’s often the most accepting and tolerant and I found myself wanting to leave this novel to get away from her situation. While they search for Dylan, Casey is forced to deal with Michael’s ex-wife, who is vilified in her need for her children and her oppositional use of them to get Michael back into her life. Casey, herself, seems at odds with her care for the children and her wanting of them to get away from her so she could have Michael to herself and this novel takes the wicked mother/exhausted-wicked stepmother idea to the edge of what it can possibly be without leaving reality.Overall, this is not your beach read and it can be mentally exhausting at times. However, for those that are looking for a realistic portrayal of a difficult situation made more difficult by a crisis, this is going to hit all of the emotional buttons. My only catch was that the ending felt inauthentic to me, but the character wasn’t mine to choose her path.Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it! Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
  • (5/5)
    I started this book last night and couldn't put it down. When I had to put it down, I wondered what was going to happen next.It's the story of Michael a father of 3 children and Casey his girlfriend/fiance (after not many months) who live together. The mother, Mallory, an alcoholic, whom Michael recently divorced is still in the picture sharing custody. Also in the picture is Michael's parents - a local well-to-do doctor.The story starts with Casey being at the end of her rope in the relationship feeling taken for granted by Michael and treated poorly by the 16 year old daughter. She writes a letter of goodbye and leaves it for Michael. On her way out the door the son's school calls - he didn't show up at school that day even though Michael had dropped him off. Pretty much from there all hell breaks loose.There was alot going on -- alot of emotions, alot not being said. Something with all of them just clicked with me -- the father trying to keep it so altogether that he can't relax; the kids being torn between their father whom they know if right, and their mother who they love (but know is kind of crazy). Throw in someone new - someone 10 years younger than their father that they feel is trying to take their mothers place - and there's bound to be hurt feelings and anger.
  • (2/5)
    Things We Didn't Say has to be one of the most infuriating novels I've ever read. I wanted to slam this book against the wall repeatedly. Why? Because the characters themselves are infuriating. Seriously, EVERY SINGLE character in this book was an idiot. Not only that, but there were also so many other infuriating things. I was groaning to myself repeatedly thinking "Bitch!" and "Moron!" and "Asshole!" I wanted to tell all of them to open their eyes, get a life, and stop freakin' complaining. Oh, except for Dylan. The kid that RAN AWAY for no DISCERNBLE reason was more likeable than all of the adults and teens in this book. Now that I got THAT off my chest, let me say that the main character really isn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, she is an idiot, but she has a pretty good reason to be an idiot. She's in love...with a douche bag...who's daughter and ex-wife are the biggest bitches known to man. In fact, the thing that most annoyed me was how determined Casey was to stick it out. I kept thinking "You are SO much better than this!" Let's start with Casey's fiance. This guy is just an idiot. He just bends to the every whim of his manipulative ex-wife (whom I will get to shortly). Okay, dude, let me show you where your priorities should lie: number 1 goes to your kids. There's no doubt in my mind about that. Number 2 goes to your fiance! You know, the woman who's putting up with all of your crap. You put yourself at number 3, followed by your even more annoying father at number 4. Your ex-wife falls wayyyy down in the totem pole, especially if she's a manipulative drunk who can't be trusted with your children. Common sense. Now, the 16 year old daughter was no better than the manipulative ex-wife (who's coming up in my little tirade). I understand that she's a teenage girl and that they're bratty. But, seriously, I don't want to read about it. Reading about manipulative teenagers who are bitches for no good reason is not my idea of fun. And the dad just kept on excusing her behavior with the whole "she comes from a broken home" schtick. Dude, there are tons of kids who come from broken homes who are nice a lot of the time. You're doing her absolutely no favors if you start excusing her every whim and letting her get away with her bitchy attitude towards undeserving people i.e. YOUR FIANCE! I wouldn't have called her a bitch in my diary, though. I would've called her one to her face...in front of her father...and his manipulative ex-wife who is now coming up in my tirade. I HATED the ex-wife...with a burning passion. I hated her so much that I seriously debated in putting down the book, not finishing it, and just writing my LibraryThing review on what I did read. The author said in the back of the ARC that she struggled in writing that character because she didn't want her to come out as a caricature of a villain. I'm sorry to say this, but that's exactly the way she came out. She just didn't come out as believable to me. Maybe that's why I hated her so much... So, if I have so many complaints about the book, why did I give it two stars? Because it was a page-turner. Seriously, I read it in two hours and a half and didn't move at all. Could I have put it down? I comtemplated it while I was reading about the ex-wife and finishing a book is not a compulsion I have (I don't mind dropping a book 50 pages from the end, if I'm not enjoying it). I just kept reading because I had to figure out how it was going to end. I couldn't figure out an ending that I would have liked to have read. Which is why I have a complaint about the ending...I'm sorry but you can't throw that much melodrama at me (my God was this book just full of melodrama) and then try to wrap it up in a pretty little bow with a happily ever after attached on the greeting card. It's just not going to work for me. All in all, I didn't really enjoy Things We Didn't Say. However, I'm weird, so I'm glad I disliked it rather than feeling "meh" about it (just because it leaves me with more impassioned reviews). I didn't hate the book, I just hated a lot of the characters. But again, it was an extreme page-turner. Will I read more of Kristina Riggle's (for some reason, I'm loving the last name) work? I actually think I would. The fact that I read this book so fast and was so interested as to the outcome leads me to believe that if she were to write characters I'd actually like, I would enjoy her work. So, we'll see on my next trip to the library I guess...
  • (1/5)
    I couldn't even get through half of this book. The main plot revolves around a missing teen boy and his dysfunctional family, which includes two siblings, a mother and a father who are divorced, and the father's fiance. At the beginning of the book, we learn that the father's fiance is prepared to end the relationship because she dislikes essentially everyone in the family and everyone except for her fiance dislikes her. Dislike is the entire undercurrent of the book, which is why I couldn't tolerate it. No one likes anyone else in the book and everyone is totally miserable although, in most instances, it wasn't clear why. Because of the general mutual hatred all of the characters have for each other and the absence of any character development prior to the teenage boy going missing, I couldn't bring myself to care about where the missing boy went or why. All I knew is that I wished I were with him as it had to be a place that was happier and more interesting than the household he came from.